|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-03-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 17 March 2009 Issue No: 3147
 PM briefed on health sector reforms; receives Rothschild Group headPrime ̀inister Costas Karamanlis was briefed Monday by Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who briefed the premier on his ministry's recent legislative initiatives, aimed squarely at the reform of the cavernous public health sector.
Afterwards, Karamanlis received the head of the Rothschild Group, David de Rothschild, at the Maximos Mansion government house, in the presence of Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou.
He said all hospitals, without exception, were drafting balance sheets and engaging in correct planning, while also collaborating with the central services of the Ministry and the Procurements Committee on all matters concerning both supplies and financial management, adding that those actions had resulted in savings of approximately 150 million euros in the past year, while upon completion of the system's organisation and the infrastructure of the Procurements Committee, savings could reach up to 500 million euros.
Regarding hospitals' debts to suppliers, Avramopoulos said that after Economy Yiannis Papathanassiou's recent meeting with suppliers the issue was nearing a final arrangement.
Henceforth, payments would be made in "real time", meaning within three months from delivery of the supplies, the minister said, adding that, in this way, expenditure for supplies would be reduced by 30-35 percent. Thus, he continued, the public system would have no deficits, while suppliers on the other hand would be satisfied both with the transparency and rational management and also for the fact that they would be paid on time.
 FM Bakoyannis attends EU ministerial councilBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis/V. Demiris)
The council of European Union foreign ministers, in which Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis represented Greece, convened on Monday and examined work regarding the upcoming EU summit and ways of tackling the international economic crisis, developments in the Balkans and preparations for the U.S.-EU meeting scheduled for April 5.
Bakoyannis said, referring to the summit, that with regard to the tackling of the economic crisis, what is necessary is "clear, tangible decisions with specific measures."
Referring in general to plans on the recovery of European economies, she said that talks are continuing on the disbursement of five billion euros from the EU budget and stressed that Greece, together with other countries, supported the need for an agreement to be reached before this coming Thursday, when the summit will be starting its work.
Bakoyannis further said that the council also dealt with the revision of the EU's energy strategy where Greece stressed that "possible current inertia will have a multiple cost and great losses for all, both at economic and social and environmental level."
On the question of developments in the Balkans, the minister said the decision was sealed on Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko assuming the post of EU special representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Bakoyannis also expressed the hope that, after next Sunday's elections in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the leadership of the neighbouring country will show a more constructive stance in UN sponsored talks on its name issue.
Called on to comment on the European Parliament's recent resolution that requested a date being set for the beginning of FYROM's accession negotiations in 2009, Bakoyannis said that it is the Council of ministers that takes the relevant decisions, pointing out that "the Europe we want to build must be based on relations of good neighbourliness, tolerance and understanding."
On the issue of the name, she expressed the hope that FYROM will show the same positive approach that Greece has, although stressing that such a thing has not been ascertained so far.
Lastly, according to Bakoyannis, cases such as the recent incidents with Greek tourists in FYROM are of no help. Incidents which, as she said, are provoked by the neighbouring country's negative rhetoric.
 Gov't on crime, university asylum issue [The government spokesman on Monday underlined that he will not refer to operational issues involving police, in comments to press questions referring to last Friday's midday attack by up to 50 self-styled "anti-state" vandals in the upscale Kolonaki district of central Athens.
"Police are re-drawing their action in view of new facts, including the apparently new way that the members of very tiny minorities choose to act," spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.
Referring to statements by Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyannakis, who holds the public order portfolio, Antonaros reiterated that there is no tolerance to criminal acts, which are being punished in accordance with existing laws.
"The overwhelming majority of citizens condemn and isolate such violent minorities," he said, adding that similar incidents are being recorded in other countries as well and are totally condemnable.
As regards the controversial university asylum issue, Antonaros stated that a government-sponsored provision has been passed in Parliament defining the exact circumstances under which law enforcement authorities can intervene.
"Greek people enjoy absolute civil liberties, and a few individuals do not have the right to violate the laws, putting at risk human lives and private property," he added, stressing that human and civil rights are strictly observed by the government.
On collaboration with New Scotland Yard, he stated that Greek Police (EL.AS) have always cooperated with corresponding foreign law enforcement authorities within the framework of efforts aimed at greater effectiveness.
 PASOK on rioting, public safetyResponding to Antonaros, main opposition PASOK on Monday said the government had failed to improve on the structures it had found for enforcing law and order and protecting public safety, choosing instead to demolish them.
"The events of the past days have confirmed for the average Greek citizen a sense that the state cannot guarantee his or her self-evident right to life, to property and the ability to walk the streets of his or her city without fear," PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou asserted.
A state unable to guarantee a basic sense of safety was an incompetent state that no longer enjoyed the trust of its citizens, he added.
Finally, in reply to the positions stated by the government in favour of cooperation and consensus, the spokesman said that in that case the government should accept a proposal for a cross-party committee for the police, noting that this had not been made by PASOK but by another opposition party.
 Government spokesman on global crisisEveryone has the obligation to contribute to the commen effort for facing the consequences of the global financial crisis, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said during a regular press briefing on Monday, and noted prime minister Costas Karamanlis' recent initiative to call the political party leaders and outline to them the six guidelines that could form the basis of a national understanding.
Replying to questions, the spokesman said that everyone who had an institutional role must contribute to the effort, adding that the crisis was not caused by the Greek parties or working people but was being faced by the entire world.
Questioned on the measures the government was mulling, in view also of the EU summit, Antonaros said he had nothing to announce at this time and would not comment on the media speculation.
Asked on the prospect of a reduction of VAT for tourism enterprises and construction companies, the spokesman said he would comment when there was something to say, while he also said he had no comment to make regarding incomes policy.
 Gov't again rules out any cooperation with opposition LA.OSThe government on Monday again reiterated previous statements ruling out the likelihood of cooperation between ruling New Democracy (ND) and the opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS), citing a statement made by the prime minister in 2007, according to which, "cooperation with LA.OS is not possible because we do not cooperate with extremes".
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the PM's statement is very clear, and he went on to cite a more recent comment by the premier in Parliament last Thursday, namely, that "cooperation with parties with which we have major political and ideological differences is out of the question".
Referring to foreign policy, Antonaros stated that it is expressed and exercised by the foreign minister, adding that "all national issues are in very good hands ... and handled responsibly by the government."
Finally, he said he has nothing to announce as regards any scheduled visit to Cyprus by the Greek prime minister.
 Papandreou, ECB leadership discuss crisisFRANKFURT (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis)
The global economic crisis dominated talks held here on Monday between Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou, leader of Greece's main opposition PASOK party, and the leadership of the European Central Bank.
"The entire world is going through a major economic and political crisis, and the European Union will have a decisive role in dealing with this," Papandreou said in statements after meeting ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and ECB vice-president Loukas Papademos.
During talks that lasted roughly two and a half hours, Papandreou stressed that the socialist and social-democrat parties had proposals for exiting the crisis in view of the G-20 meeting in London.
PASOK's leader noted that there had been an exchange of views with the leadership of the ECB that also touched on the economic crisis as this affected Europe and Greece, adding that the PASOK party had put forward proposals for dealing both with the immediate problems faced by Greek people today but also in the future.
"We must not stick to restrictive policies but invest in growth, green development with people as its focus and develop infrastructure," he underlined.
 Dep. Minister expected to brief chamber on beefed up security for central AthensDeputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyannakis, who holds the public order portfolio, on Monday requested to address an extraordinary Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) board meeting expected to focus on the problems faced by merchants in downtown Athens, especially since last December's unprecedented rioting and repeated vandalisms since then.
Markoyannakis will brief ACCI board members on law enforcement measures the ministry of interior intends to take to deal with the situation.
According to ACCI, a total of 67 stores were damaged last Friday, during a midday flash raid by hooded vandals in the upscale district of Kolonaki in central Athens. A complete assessment of the damages will be ready on Tuesday.
 Anti-terror squad officer behind leak to newspaperGreek Police Chief Vassilis Tsiatouras on Monday ordered that an officer serving in one of the country's anti-terrorist squads be suspended from duty, on suspicion that he was responsible for the leak of a confidential list of names and facilities that are terrorist targets to the newspaper "To Vima".
The police officer in question is also likely to face criminal proceedings and Hellenic Police (ELAS) disciplinary boards, once the investigation into the leak has been completed.
Given the latest development in the case, Tsiatouras additionally ordered that four heads of Greek Police anti-terrorist squads, who had been suspended from duty pending the conclusion of the investigation into the leak, should be allowed to return to active duty at police headquarters.
 Justice minister holds talks with Athens ArchbishopJustice Minister Nikos Dendias met on Monday with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos at the Athens Archdiocese.
According to an announcement by the Justice ministry, Dendias discussed with the Archbishop cooperation between the Church of Greece and the Justice ministry in the sector of the smooth rehabilitation of prison inmates in society. Ieronymos also accepted the minister's proposal to visit a prison together, in light of the Easter holiday.
Also discussed was the institutional framework currently governing the application of law within the Church of Greece, in relation to decisions by the country's Justice on penal issues regarding clergymen and the Archbishop expressed the desire for possible changes in legal arrangements existing on this issue since 1932.
 Parliament President Sioufas announces consumption spending cutParliament President Dimitris Sioufason Monday announced a decision to cut consumption spending in Parliament by 10 pct in 2009 during a meeting with National Economy and Finance Minister Yannis Papathanasiou.
"Parliament must set the example in the difficult effort undertaken by the government to deal with the consequences of the global financial crisis," Sioufas said after the meeting..
He stated that parliament had requested and received a small credit increase (4.5 pct), compared with the government ministries, with the exception of the ministry of defence, noting that a total of 5.7 million euros saved from last year's budget was recently returned to the ministry of finance.
 More Greek enterprises' credit worthiness downgraded in '03-'08, surveyMore Greek enterprises saw their credit-worthiness down-graded in the last six years, compared with those whose credit-worthiness improved in the same period, a survey by ICAP Group revealed on Monday.
The survey, based on a sample of 170,301 enterprises that enjoyed credit ratings in the period 2003-2008, showed that downgrades totaled 29 pct, while upgrades 21 pct.
ICAP said the enterprises rated with a high credit risk grew by an average of 32 pct in the six-year period, while ratings in the low credit risk level fell by 9.0 pct and ratings in the medium credit risk level fell by 2.5 pct over the same period.
The survey also showed that improved financial results in 2007 helped enterprises to more consistent payers, while businesses became more inconsistent with their debt payments in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
 Deputy FinMin on electronic chance gamesThe government will proceed with the lifting of the total prohibition of electronic chance games to enable it to be in harmony with European Union legislation and to prevent a second conviction by the European Communities Court.
Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas announced the decision in Parliament on Monday, replying to a relevant question by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) Deputy Makis Voridis.
Bezas said that a special work group has already been set up which is examining the replacement of the existing legislative framework and the creation of a new one.
He added that law 3037/2002 had resulted from strong social pressure and anticipates the full prohibition of electronic chance games in all public premises, with the exception of casinos, but such a thing does not apply in any other European country.
Bezas further said that last Thursday, the European Court imposed a fine on Greece that increases for every day of non-compliance with European legislation, while a second ruling is also pending.
 Construction production index down 2.4 pct in Q4The production index in the construction sector fell 2.4 pct in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007, after recording a 17.5 pct increase in the fourth quarter of 2007, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the production index was up 6.9 pct in the fourth quarter from the third quarter of 2008, after an increase of 12.7 pct in the final three months of 2007.
 Employment in retail sector up 1.7 pct in Q4Employment in the retail sector grew 1.7 pct in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007, after a decline of 0.7 pct in the fourth quarter of 2007, the National Statistical Service said on Monday.
The statistics service, in a report, said the employment index rose 0.7 pct in the fourth quarter from the third quarter of 2008.
 OPAP cites 19.6% hike in net profitsOPAP SA, Greece's state-run lottery and football pools operator, on Monday reported a 19.6-pct increase in its consolidated net profits to 728.5 million euros, up from 608.9 million euros in 2007, while adding that net profits fell 7.2 pct to 178.9 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2008
Consolidated sales totaled 5.52 billion euros last year, up 9.0 pct from 2007, reflecting strong sales by KINO. Sales in the further quarter 2008 totaled 1.54 billion euros, up 1.4 pct.
Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) grew 30.5 pct to 1.057 billion euros last year, from 810 million euros in 2007, while EBITDA margin rose to 19.1 pct from 17.0 pct over the same period, respectively. EBITDA fell 4.1 pct in the fourth quarter of the year. OPAP said higher EBITDA results reflected lower operating spending and lower administration spending.
Commenting on the results, Christos Hatziemmanouil, chairman and chief executive of OPAP said the organization presented a spectacular increase in its 2008 results despite adverse economic conditions and stressed that the organization would seek to maintain strong profitability this year.
OPAP said it would seek shareholders' approval to a plan to pay a 2.20-euros per share dividend to shareholders, up from 1.74 euros in 2007.
 Greek inflation slowed to 1.8 pct in February, EurostatGreek annual inflation rate fell to 1.8 pct in February, from 2.0 pct in January, Eurostat said on Monday. The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone rose to 1.2 pct in February, from 1.1 pct in January, but was sharply down compared with a 3.3 pct rate in February 2008, while in the EU, the inflation rate eased to 1.7 pct from 1.8 pct, respectively, from 3.5 pct in February 2008.
Ireland and Portugal (0.1 pct each) recorded the lowest percentage rates, followed by Cyprus (0.6 pct), while Latvia (9.4 pct), Lithuania (8.5 pct) and Romania (6.9 pct) the highest rates.
The inflation rate fell in 11 EU member-states, it was unchanged in two and rose in 13 member states.
 Bounced checks soar 229.2% in Feb.Credit conditions worsened in the domestic market in February, with the value of bounced checks soaring 229.2 percent to total 222.3 million euros, compared with the corresponding period last year, official figures showed on Monday.
Bounced checks grew 4.76 pct in volume to 22,376 in February, for a total of 43,736 in the January-February period, worth 448.8 million euros.
Unpaid bills totaled 8,733 in February, worth 15.7 million euros, down 34.99 pct and 38.06 pct compared with January, although the value of unpaid bills grew 25.39 pct compared with the same month in 2008. Unpaid bills totaled 22,167 (volume) and 41.1 million euros (value) in the first two months of the year.
 PASOK comments on figures; slams government for incompetenceIn a comment on the figures, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that markets had "run dry" and the government lack any plan or response, adding that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis "will be etched in the consciousness of the public as the prime minister of insecurity, both financial and on the streets".
According to the spokesman, the government had no plans to ease taxation for the greater mass of tax-payers, in spite of the recent decision by the EU's ECOFIN council allowing substantial VAT reductions for tourism and agricultural machinery.
 Alpha Bank president addresses Athens eventAlpha Bank President Yiannis Kostopoulos, addressing an event held in Athens on Monday with Rothschild banking group President David de Rothschild as the main speaker, said that the repercussions of the international crisis for Greek banks were under control and were only linked to the malfunctions being observed in international markets and in the interbank money market in particular.
Kostopoulos said that the government's arrangements and the support package for the Greek economy's fluidity in particular will have positive repercussions in the banking sector and will contribute to the further boosting of fluidity in the market.
He also expressed optimism that the worst is over and the international economy will begin to recover as of 2010.
Rothschild expressed reserved optimism on the overcoming of the international crisis, stressing that at international level coordinated actions, both by governments and central banks are positive signs for strengthening the fluidity of the international economy that is an essential precondition for an exit from the crisis.
 OTE calls extraordinary shareholders' meeting for April 7Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Monday announced a board decision to call for an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting on Tuesday 7, April. The shareholders' meeting will discuss, among others, a proposal amending article 8 of the organisation's statute envisaging the election, composition and term of its board council.
 Study to begin in 2009 for natural gas supply in CreteA study will get under way in 2009 for the installation of natural gas on the island of Crete, Development Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said on Monday during his address at the Greek European Studies Centre's Symposium on the theme "Energy: Developments at Greek and European level."
He added that the creation of three natural gas facilities will be proclaimed in the regions of Eastern Macedonia, Thrace, Central Macedonia and central Greec with the aim of 85,000 additional households acquiring natural gas in 2009 and at the end of 2010 one million citizens being linked with natural gas.
The minister also reiterated his position that in the electric power production sector "there is space both for DEH (the Public Power Corporation) and private investors."
 International conference on International Water DayThe EYDAP water supply service will honour International Water Day on March 22 with an international conference at which presentations will be made of necessary action on the rational management and use of water, also in view of crucial climatic changes.
The conference, titled "Water: The day after", will have Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias as the main speaker.
Greek and foreign scientists, who are experts on water management and environmental issues in general, will focus on issues related to water adequacy and climatic changes.
 Greek company receives CERN awardGENEVA (ANA-MPA)
The European Nuclear Research Organisation (CERN) gave an award on Monday to the Greek Prisma Ilektronica ABEE company, headquartered in the city of Alexandroupoli, for the construction of 5,500 electronic circuits that have been installed and will be functioning in the CMS/Preshower experiment.
The Greek company received the Gold Award from the organisation, following a success it had in the tender for the procumemenrt of electronic circuits. The project was implemented in cooperation with the National Natural Sciences Research Centre "Dimokritos" and the Ioannina University.
Participating in the award ceremony was a representative of the Permanent Greek Delegation of Geneva who praised the significance of the company being given an award and stressed the importance of the dynamic participation of a Greek export company in a molecular research peak sector, such as CERN.
 Greek stocks end 1.69% upGreek stocks ended substantially higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, extending last week's rally via the positive climate in other European markets. The composite index rose 1.69 pct to end at 1,584.16 points, with turnover a low 85.8 million euros, of which 3.1 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Commerce (3.84 pct), Banks (3.56 pct) and Telecommunications (2.78 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (1.15 pct), Financial Services (0.81 pct) and Constructions (0.58 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.19 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.40 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index moved 0.93 pct up. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 129 to 79 with another 39 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.60%
Personal & Household: -0.23%
Raw Materials: +2.14%
Travel & Leisure: +1.93%
Food & Beverages: +0.75%
Financial Services: -0.81%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.30
HBC Coca Cola: 10.11
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.48
National Bank of Greece: 10.60
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.83
Bank of Piraeus: 4.17
Titan Cement Company: 14.50
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices maintained their discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover improving slightly to 67.541 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.45 pct, with volume at 13,524 contracts worth 51.958 million euros, and 30,566 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,811 contracts worth 15.583 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OPAP's contracts (3,954), followed by MIG (1,882), OTE (930), GEK (815), Piraeus Bank (845), National Bank (2,318), Alpha Bank (1,433), Intracom (1,287), Marfin Popular Bank (1,707) and Ellaktor (2,577).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 681 million euros on Monday, of which 416 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 265 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 385 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 292 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 6.05 pct and the German Bund 3.13 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.91 pct, the six-month rate was 1.77 pct, the three-month rate 1.62 pct and the one-month rate 1.23 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.314
Pound sterling 0.927
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 11.074
Japanese yen 129.54
Swiss franc 1.554
Norwegian kroner 8.835
Canadian dollar 1.666
Australian dollar 1.983
 Cedefop report highlights rising demand for specialised workforce in EUHigh-level skills and specialisation will define the occupations of the future in EU member-states, with dominant sectors by 2020 those involving analytical/critical thought, communication and language as well as knowledge of digital technology.
In a conference organised by the Thessaloniki-based European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), a European agency that helps promote and develop vocational education and training in the EU, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth Jan Figel pointed out that lifelong learning, job market association with education systems and promotion of entrepreneurial thought remain the priorities for the EU.
According to a new report on vocational education and training issued by Cedefop, demand will be on the rise until 2020 for high-level specialisation workers. The conference participants warned that roughly 78 million people lacking high-level skills could become marginalized in Europe pointing out that additional training will be necessary to avoid unemployment.
 Cooperation memorandum between Athens municipality, OSEA cooperation memorandum between the Athens municipality and the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE), which was ratified with a majority vote by the Athens municipal council on Monday, puts an end to the "partitioning" of Athens.
The memorandum, presented by alternate mayor Chronis Akritidis and OSE's managing director George Yiannousis anticipates the lowering of 1,230 metres from Sepolia street to Siokou street and 620 metres from Orpheos street to Iera Odos and, in parallel, the lowering of the largest part of the remaining part of surface lines that currently "cut" Athens in two.
With the memorandum the crossing of pedestrians, vehicles and trains along the line in its entirety is being avoided, with underpasses and overpasses. In addition, 20,000 square metres of land owned by OSE will be provided for common use for the city and the inhabitants of neighbourhoods.
 Nafplio Museum reopens its doors to publicRestauration works on the Naflio Archaeological Museum have been completed and the new museum will be inaugurated on Tuesday by Culture Minister Antonis Samaras. T he minister will also inaugurate a photo exhibition
The reopening of the museum in the eastern Peloponnese coastal city of Nafplio will take place at 7:00 p.m.
 Exhibition on Athenian Democracy in Melbourne's HFC CentreMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)
The archaeological exhibition "Athenian Democracy speaking through its inscriptions" will be formally inaugurated on March 19 at the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) Centre in Melbourne, housed in the Hellenic Museum facilities.
The exhibition, organized by the Epigraphic Museum and the University of Athens, is being organized on the occasion of the formal opening of the HFC Centre in Melbourne and will offer the opportunity to the general public to understand the operation of the world's first Democracy.
The inauguration will be held in the presence of General Secretary of the Greek Ministry of Culture, Thodoris Dravillas, HFC president Professor George Babiniotis, and local authorities.
 SAE president in Thessaloniki; discusses 'Ark' projectWorld Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis on Monday had a succession of meetings with officials in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, to discuss the foundation and running of an "Ark of Hellenes Abroad" at the SAE's base in the city.
Tamvakis discussed the project with Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and Macedonia-Thrace Minister Stavros Kalafatis.
Kalafatis stressed the ministry's support for the idea of the 'Ark', which will seek to digitally record and process the historic course of Greeks and Greek culture, as well as agreeing to other activities that strengthen the role of the SAE in Greece, such as projects involving young people.
Regarding the ability of Greeks abroad to vote in Greek elections from their place of residence, both Tamvakis and Kalafatis stressed the importance of establishing an 'expatriate vote' in order to strengthen the worldwide 'voice' of Greeks and ties between Greeks abroad and Greece.
Kalafatis noted that the bill prepared by the government for this purpose was now being discussed and would soon be presented to the Parliament plenum for approval.
"It is a very positive step that strengthens the bonds of Hellenes worldwide with Greece and opens yet another road for joint and cohesive actions, through which we can expect many things for Greeks abroad but also for our own country," he stressed.
 Greek-Japanese collaboration to restore monastery's frescos to be presentedA collaboration by Greek and Japanese scientists to restore the frescos of a monastery on the Saronic Gulf island of Salamina will be presented at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in central Athens on Wednesday, in cooperation with the Japanese embassy in Greece and within the framework of the 110th anniversary of the inauguration of diplomatic ties between Japan and Greece.
The restoration project, which lasted for three years, was funded by the Japanese ministry of education as a result of long-standing efforts by noted professor of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art and Greek Language Kido Masako, of Kyoritsu Women's University in Tokyo.
 50 year old man drowns in Thessaloniki portÁ 50-year-old man drowned early Monday morning when he fell with his car into the water at Thessaloniki port, northern Greece.
A rescue team rushed to his assistance and a crane lifted the car out of the water, but the man was already dead.
The circumstances of the accident are being investigated.
 Bank robbed of 121,526 eurosAn armed robbery occurring at a National Bank branch office in the region of Polichni in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, at noon on Monday resulted in a loss of 121,526 euros for the bank.
According to the police, three people having their faces covered and wearing helmets entered the bank and took the money from the cash desks at gunpoint. They then fled the scene on high powered motorcycles.
 Armed robbery in Thessaloniki Internet CafeAn armed robber entered an Internet cafe in Thessaloniki on Sunday and forced an employee to hand over the 2,500 euros in the cafe's register.
The robber fled afterwards in an unkown direction.
 Two foreign nationals charged with drug dealingTwo Albanian nationals were arrested on Monday by Kiato (near Corinth) police in the Athens suburb of Haidari, possessing 108 grams of heroin.
The two suspects will be sent before a Corinth prosecutor, Police confiscated the narcotics.
 Cloudy, rainy on TuesdayCloudy and showery weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 0C and 18C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 2C to 13C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceIntended measures to combat rising crime, and the Bank of Greece's 'green light' to several banks to extend low-interest loans to SMEs were the main front-page items in Monday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The crisis a national challenge, prime minister said, speaking in Agrinio (on the weekend)".
APOGEVMATINI: "Acceleration of pension procedures - Manner of calculation and issue of pensions for consecutive insurance changing".
AVRIANI: "Operation 'sweep' throughout the country to combat crime".
CRIME: "Cheap money for SMEs - 'Green light' from Bank of Greece".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Athens in...blue (pertaining to police) - Rapid reaction force against hooded troublemakers".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Greek Police's (ELAS) 'accomplishments' spark political clash".
ESTIA: "Creation of jobs demands deep-rooted change of policy".
ETHNOS: "9 wounds opened up by the crisis - Brake on consumption, acceleration on layoffs - Salary reductions".
TA NEA: "Let them...release steam - Outcry over the police orders".
VRADYNI: "Second-hand homes - Prospective buyers shift attention to older houses and apartments", with a huge slump in demand for new buildings.
 Leaders to hold their 23rd meeting TuesdayNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus will meet again on Tuesday in the context of the UN-led direct negotiations, to continue their discussion on European issues.
Speaking after last week's meeting, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alexander Downer had said that the leaders decided to refer some of the technical issues to experts and the two leaders would meet again on Tuesday to review the work of the technical experts and have a further discussion on EU matters.
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat began direct negotiations in September last year with a view to solve the question of Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the island.
Tuesday's meeting begins at 1000 local time (0800 GMT) in the UN Protected Area of Nicosia in the presence of UN Secretary-General's Special Representative in Cyprus Taye-Brook Zerihoun.
 National Council concludes the discussion on the issue of governanceNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The National Council, the top advisory body to the president on the handling of the Cyprus issue, convened Monday and concluded the discussion on the first chapter, namely governance, of the ongoing direct negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Speaking after the meeting, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said that during the meeting the political parties "have concluded their submission of views on the issue of governance".
The political parties also expressed their views on the issue of European matters, which the leaders of the two communities are discussing at this stage of the direct talks, he added.
Replying to a question, Stephanou noted that the parties have also submitted documents with their views on the issue of European matters.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Christofias and Talat have been engaged in talks, under UN auspices, since last September with a view to finding a mutually agreed settlement that will reunite the country.
 US Ambassador: We support efforts for a Cyprus settlementLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The US is completely supportive of efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement through direct negotiations and will remain so, US Ambassador here Frank Urbancic has said, adding that this ''is a very high priority for us''.
Asked about the ongoing direct negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, with a view to solve the protracted Cyprus problem, Urbancic said ''we remain very encouraged by the fact that the two leaders have taken on this responsibility on their own shoulders and have decided to move forward. We are completely supportive of that effort and we will remain so. It is a very high priority for us.''
Asked if US President Barack Obama will give a message to Ankara about the Cyprus problem during his forthcoming visit to Turkey, Urbancic said ''the USA, Turkey and the entire international community have a great stake in seeing a successful resolution of this problem which you have all suffered for a very long time and I am sure that will be part of their discussions, of course.''
The US Ambassador was speaking to the press during a visit to the Moslem religious site Hala Sultan Tekke here. He said this is the first chance he had to visit sites officially and to come to understand a little bit better what the city is about.
''I will also like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Larnaca for their great hospitality and for hosting one of the first ship visits that we have been able to arrange for the American navy in a number of years. I am very much looking forward to meeting the Mayor and the business community to come to a better understanding of the problems and how the United States can assist,'' he added.
He noted that the US had some significant part in restoring this religious site.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. The two community leaders are engaged in talks, under UN auspices, to help find a mutually agreed settlement to reunite the country.
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